He bought her a badge. A simple, sweet gesture that had actually made her day a hell of a lot better than it would've been without it. It said 'World's Best Granny' on it and although she had laughed appreciatively to begin with, she really did rather love it. Knowing that he thought she would be a good grandmother was reassuring to say the least. Knowing that everything was as perfect as it would get between them again just made her want to jump up and down and squeal in happiness. She had missed his teasing, his gentle and frequent flirts, the way he could make her giggle and blush like a little girl. She hadn't realized how dim her life had become without him over the past few weeks; she had just been seeping deeper and deeper in misery and depression.

Her first throught when he pulled out that little black box was I do. She then pounded back down to Earth with a loud bang and realized that he was not going to propose, and felt a little silly, although he had no idea that she had even considered this notion. Her heart had lept ecstatically when she had carefully placed the badge in her pocket and their eyes had latched onto one another. Slowly, and all too consciously, she had begun to tilt forward and he had mirrored her actions, leaning towards her. Her eyes had started to flicker shut and his were about to do the same when Chris had walked in. Damn it, she could've kicked herself at that moment; screw that, she could've kicked Chris. There had been an unfallable awkwardness in the corridor after that moment, the atmosphere so tense that it could probably be snipped into a million pieces with a pair of scissors and there would still be enough left for someone to sit in the corner and do 'awkward turtle.' But they had continued on with their day, avoiding each other only out of principle before he had entered her office only an hour later. She couldn't really recall what had been said in their conversation, but all she could remember was that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach when he had left without kissing her. They had been alone, it could've been a perfect kiss for the moment, but it was then that she noticed what he both wanted and needed her to do. He had initiated it last time, that fantastic kiss outside of the restaurant when he had first locked lips with her, first ran his fingers through her hair, first had the chance to hold her the way he had so desperately wanted to for weeks, and so now it was her turn – kind of. He wanted her to realize that, with love, you have to take any opportunities by the skin of your teeth. So he silently challenged her, and she accepted.

Karen spent the rest of the dat in her office, walking aimlessly backwards and forwards, running through lines and things she could and would say to him. She jotted down a few things, mumbling and murmuring about whether that could work as an innuendo. She tried to guess what his responses would be, and she did hope that he would be slightly surprised at her actions. But then Richard Whitman had happened. One day, probably sometime soon in the near future, she was going to bitch slap that jerk. How dare he intimidate and charm one of her staff into passing on information to him? He would have his come-uppance one day though, and that was the one thing that kept her calm as she stood in his huge chamber, his form towering over her.

'You know Richard,' she began vehemently, a smirk gracing her lips, 'Up close you're really quite pathetic.' She would've paid to have seen his reaction to that but instead, she turned on her heel, swung around, stormed over to the door, pulled it open and then slammed it shut, the loud bang ricocheting off the walls and high ceiling. When she reached outside, she took several deep and steady breaths and just stood for a few moments. She was disbelieving of the information she had just been shot with. Did he really hate her that much that he would try any cheap, black-market stunt to get her eliminated? The sheer cheek was inexcusable in itself but when he had said he would make sure she never worked as a headmistress again, it had taken all her will-power not to reach out and smack him into next month. Her anger was becoming more and more evident with every passing second, and bitterness was raging through her head. But she took another few breaths and remembered Rob's worthy words of Just let go of your anger Karen. Don't let it get to you. They encircled her and her eyes glazed over in impending thought, glassy and reflective, ignoring all the other happenings on this tiny little planet. She decided, suddenly, that the best thing to do now would be to go and carry out Operation Second Kiss. It was a subtle name, she thought sarcastically, and now was the absolute perfect time to perform it. She had been waiting however many weeks to get the chance for this event.

She had been so sure that all their chances to be together had been scuppered when his bitch of a wife came back, but he saw sense in the end, kicked Naomi out and tried all he could to get Karen back. When he had attempted to hold her hand, once alone in the outer building in the school, she had cruelly wrenched it away and broken both of their hearts. But he needed to understand that she needed time to heal, time to reconsider, time to figure and puzzle out her extraordinarily sensitive and confusing emotions. And a week later, when everything had died down, and he had almost begged for her forgiveness, she had freely given it to him. He had responded typical Rob style, the whole attractively breathing into her ear kind of thing. And as useless as it sounded, it normally turned her legs to jelly.

She pounded a fist against her radio as the station crackled from loss of signal and began to fuzz and buzz annoyingly. And then (it had to be now didn't it?) the petrol light started to flash uncontrollably. Groaning in angst, someone obviously didn't want this to happen, she pulled over to the side of the road, climbed out of her car and slammed the door shut. She leant against the door and sighed out, staring up at the darkening sky, trying not to break down. After a few minutes, she decided to carry on, prevailing in strength, and left the car by the side of the road with the intention of coming back and getting it tomorrow. She knew the way to his house, and followed various signs to his street. It had to be tonight, it had to be tonight, she told herself, gradually growing in confidence. It would be okay, he wouldn't let her down.

X – X – X

'Karen…' he breathed out in shock. There she stood, wrapped in her slimming black coat, standing calmly and normally on his porch, like it was the most average thing in the world. There was something in her smile tonight, something suggestive, something new. Her eyes twinkled flirtily at him and she altered her position so that she was leaning ever so slightly on his doorframe, in a 'damsel in distress' manner. She knew how to play, he was sure of that already.

'Sorry to turn up unannounced,' she said coolly, knowing full well that he didn't care, he was so grateful for the fact that she was here. She didn't sound remorseful or regretful, but she had no need to be. Her smile increased in size, and her pink rose lips shone in the light outside his house.

'No worries,' he sighed out quickly, not wanting to give her the impression she was not wanted when she really was – rather a lot.

'Are you busy?' she enquired innocently. He was home alone, she knew that seeing as Aiden was being a bit self destructive at the moment, and he was sure to let her in.

'No, no. Come through,' he stuttered, in awe of her radiance. He was surprised that she had actually turned up at his door in the middle of the night and acted this way. She was confident and striking and utterly stunning, he could never resist this woman in a million years. Stepping into his cozy little home, nervousness beginning to grow inside of her, she strolled in behind him, admiring his body subconciously, and asked, 'It's not too late is it?'

'No!' he hastened to say, ignoring the intensifying darkness of the sky outside, reminding him that it was well past eleven, 'Erm, let me take your coat,' he suggested chivalrously, watching intently as she gracefully slipped out of her coat, smiling at him in a seductive way. 'Bad day?' he asked comfortingly. She strolled around his living room, not inspecting the place, but just looking. It was a lovely little place, and she wondered just how much of it she would explore this evening. She hoped quite a lot. She turned to him, a grin across her lips. She spoke the truth, although there was probably a small element of sarcasm etched into her words, and she replied, surprising herself, 'No, it was good actually.'

He was now no longer sure if he was dreaming or not. Surely Karen, the ballsy and fiery headmistress, would've been affected by the goings on in her school; upset and betrayed, but she was okay with it?

'Oh, I just thought with Eleanor…' he mumbled, setting her coat aside, a question embedded in his statement. She caught a seconds worth of eye contact with him and edged towards him by a few inches or so, 'I just listened to what you said and…let go of my anger.' She smiled flippantly at him and laughed at his reaction.

'What, you listen to me occasionally?' he asked teasingly before she could continue. She closed her mouth, cutting off the words she was about to utter, and stared at him. The smile upon her face was totally delicious and he had a feeling it wouldn't be too long until he was trailing his lips across it.

'You have your moments,' she suggested bluntly. He almost laughed at this, and the tone of amusement spreading across her face caused a grin to overpower the muscles in his face. She strolled three steps closer to him. She looked so beautiful right now, angelic. The light on her skin made her look like she was glowing; radiant, perfect, a goddess sent down to Earth to seduce him.

'Erm drink?' he asked awkwardly. He knew that her response would change everything. He knew this was the moment when they just forgot their history, all the lies and crap, all the heartbreak and just started anew once more.

'I'm not thirsty,' she said boldly and extremley bluntly. He smiled at her, in an I-know-what's-going-to-happen-so-just-do-it kind of manner. She closed the gap between them and her expression lightened and she beamed gorgeously. 'Actually,' she begins nervously. She gives herself one more push, one more final bounce of confidence and she finally says, 'I didn't come here for a drink.' She takes one more step and with his consent, shining in his eyes, she thrusts herself upon him and presses her lips against his. It is perfect, sweet and intense, all past bitterness forgotten. She places on hand on his cheek, sliding it gracefully up and down his jawbone, the other dancing through his hair. He gives her a few seconds to control and then responds, just when she is about to give up. He clutches at her passionately and gently, slinking an arm around her waist. His fingers run through her hair, the golden strands being threaded through them, like it was made of silk, soft and rich and fine to touch. She recognizes his willingness and seizes control once more, changing direction of her lips so she can get even closer to him. Their bodies entwine together, loosely pressing against one another and when he notices this, he removes his hands from her waist and clutches her cheeks, intensifying it even further. His tongue slides into her mouth, prising her lips open, and runs around, crashing wildly against hers. She wants it to last forever; the euphoria she feels, she wants to forever. She likes him so much right now she can barely believe it.

Gradually, they begin to move towards the sofa. Still locked by the lips, they sit down and continue, their lips twisting and turning, his hands running up and down her slender form. Very, very slowly, she begins to lie down on the sofa, her form burying itself slightly in the material. She pulls him with her, pulling him down by the collar, and she feels so secure and protected as he wraps his hands around her waist and deepens the kiss, meshing his face against hers even more tightly. He lies down next to her and smiles the widest he has ever smiled when she breaks away from him.

'I love you so much, you incredible, incredible woman,' he murmured in her ear before kissing her intensly once more. But she is more hesitant this time and, sitting up and dragging her cautiously with him, he slowly detaches their lips,

'Karen, what's wrong?' he asks her gingerly, staring at her expression, trying to detect what the issue is. But her face is passive, utterly blank, and he presses her for an answer before she quietly whispers, 'You…love me?'

'Is that a problem?'

'No, I just…just, wasn't expecting it,' she stammered, trying to cover up her mistake. He holds her hand encouragingly, and smiles broadly at her, 'What were you expecting? Tea and biscuits with the caretaker?'

'Oh shut up,' she says lightly, punching him gently on the shoulder, smirking again. They sit in silence for several minutes before she stammers out, 'Y-you know Rob…'

'Yes?' he asks encouragingly, finding her cobalt eyes again. She shushes him, begging him not to interrupt. What she is about to say next, she never thought she would ever say to any man ever again after what Charlie did, 'I love you too.'

X – X – X

Karen wakes up early the next morning in a rather unfamiliar setting. She flickers her eyes open slowly, feeling all too tired and stares around at the room she is in. The curtains are drawn shut, blocking out the yellowish tinge of the sun rising and shining through the window, and the walls are painted a luxurious purple colour. The décor is simple enough, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a small bookshelf which upon it are several classics, including Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol. She is lying down, her head sinking into a soft pillow. The bed is large, a double, and although she is alone, there is a form imprinted in the mattress next to her. Everything that happened last night is kind of a blur, and she will remember much of it later when she is more awake. Her hair is messy and hanging in front of her eyes and she brushes it away. She wipes her eyes as she yawns and when she brings her hands in front of her face, she sees her dark fleshy eyeshadow over her hands. Her ear are slightly blocked and she sees the time to be six in the morning; she's having another half an hour, then she'll get up and remember where she is, because it's certainly not her house. As she begins to drift off again, a voice yells from downstairs,

'Do you want tea or coffee Karen? I'll get you some biscuits as well to go with it, eh? Tea and biscuits with the caretaker?'

She suddenly realizes exactly where she is, and she remembers exactly what happened last night. Thank God that Jess taught her what 'awkward turtle' is, because she's certainly going to need to use it later on today…